testimonials and reviews

ZUrabia by Peter Dash Book Review

By Rebecca Shane

ZUrabia is not only a fast-paced and action-packed suspense thriller of James Bond proportions, the story itself holds immediate relevancy to the recent media attention given to hidden offshore and overseas banks accounts, tax evasion and U.S. negotiations with these countries to divulge their secrets.  In 2010, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FACTA, which calls for overseas banks to begin full disclosure on bank accounts held by U.S. citizens beginning in 2014.  In ZUrabia, the many forces in opposition to this ‘sharing of information’ are deadly and powerful.

Adrian Sands is a covert operative and assassin in Z5, a highly secretive and privately funded organization which acts as an international watchdog.  He has been activated to keep an eye out on The Dianesis Order, a female order with Masonic roots which spends its time holding luxurious benefits in the name of suppressed women.  Z5 feels they may have been targeted by Muslim extremists and other radicals, and Adrian is set in place under one of his many guises to watch over their members, especially Isolde, a Countess and the order’s elegant leader.

Isolde somehow becomes connected with a top secret document which she is scheduled to retrieve and bring back to Zurich.  Z5 is aware of its immediate importance and has Adrian accompany Isolde as a chaperon to Panama.  But Z5 isn’t the only group aware of this document, a key list which holds an encrypted set of names – all of whom are considered to be top priority sell-outs, turncoats and spies who want to bring down the West.  Adrian and Isolde manage to evade capture and execution by a number of factions, and finally find themselves jetted to a Z5 safe house.  When Adrian’s name is erroneously revealed in the deciphered list, there are no more safe houses for Adrian.  Moreover, the list of names contains deeper secrets, there is more to Isolde than Adrian knows, and Z5 has a problem.

The backbone to this story isn’t the adventure or potential romance between our main characters, but the widespread corruption and greed shared by a number of unsavory characters.  K-Boom, a nuclear weapons specialist, had his Zurich bank account assets stolen from him at U.S. persuasion.  He concocts a revenge scheme as payback to the West by arranging a nuclear holocaust where it would do the most financial damage – Zurich.  And he has a lot of support:  Schmidt, a corrupt Swiss banker who plays the market on gold and silver to his advantage before fleeing the country and who also enjoys embalming his living enemies with liquid precious metals in his special torture room; Muslim extremists who want nothing more than to see the West fall; a worldwide youth-group of neo-Nazi fundamentalists; and other people in lofty positions.  While Adrian and Isolde fight to stay alive and solve a mystery, the clock is ticking away to meltdown.

The character of Adrian Sands is a split-personality on top of a multiple personality disorder.  On one side he is a cool-headed assassin who employs a number of disguises aided by his own exemplary language skills.  He is known by Interpol and has a worldwide reputation for getting the work done.  On the other side, he is a lonely alcoholic who loves the high life but feels the pressure from living so many different lives.

“..I could be dreadfully jaded as an over-experienced traveling assassin who more than occasionally had quite an expense account – and a fatalistic attitude at quickly gobbling up the very best.  But when I ran low on money, I would be happy to polish off a cheap rosé that was good enough to lap off the table.  Or leave all over the table in a drunken, sad fit after staging another act of unfeeling liquidation.”

He’s not the perfect ‘shaken, not stirred’ spy and assassin we come to expect, but a real person whose occupational stress shows through as cracks in his train of thought and in his interactions with Isolde.  He makes the story believable.

The added elements of fiction in this real-world drama make the novel completely unique. Peter Dash mixes our own current events with fictional places such as Sarabia and Tyrania, Muslim countries with their own burgeoning populations of extremist ethos.  And in Dash’s world, a Muslim invasion has begun with a number of Islamic influences in western countries.  Along with this culture influx, the suppression of women becomes more apparent and too close for comfort.  That’s where the Dianesis Order comes into play.  The author also ties in interesting characters of history who play real parts in the story such as Van Gogh and Princess Diana.

While Sarabia has its own cast of bad guys, as does many other countries and factions, this book isn’t an attack on the Muslim world.  The extremists make up a small percentage and two of our unexpected heroes come straight from Sarabian royalty.  And although Islamic Jihadists and neo-Nazi fundamentalists are scary by their own right, ZUrabia will have you fearing Swiss bankers above all.

What I loved about this novel was the slow untying of knots at the end.  There wasn’t a quick and predictable resolution but a natural build, piece by piece, where each of our nefarious plotters is fingered and systematically eliminated with delightfully gory details.  The very end of the book, in its extreme height, made me think of the movie Speed with Keanu Reeves, but instead of a bus we have a train.  And just when you think everything is going to be tied up into a nice and neat package, Dash hits you with another surprise: a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that will have you sitting straight up, re-reading the last few pages over and over again.  When you scream, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  But don’t worry, a sequel is forthcoming.

The reader will have to hurdle the novel’s overly long information dump in the beginning.  The story doesn’t get going until chapter twelve.  However, once you make it to that point, it becomes increasingly difficult to put the book down.

I would suggest this book to anyone and everyone in the financial sector.  Bankers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, investors and, of course, anyone associated with the IRS.  To everyone else, this is not only a great novel but an educational piece.  It is designed to inform the reader about what potentially goes on in private banks and to make the reader think about possible futures.  ZUrabia is a fiction novel that is terrifyingly as real as it gets.  You’ll never look at bankers the same way again. 

Harvard Researcher Peter Dash Releases New Novel, ZURABIA

By BWWBooksWorld
A new book, ZUrabia, by Peter Dash, is a cautionary tale that offers a unique take on current affairs among the world’s important institutions.

Dash draws from his experience as a world-traveled professor, and researcher for Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs. Using his research, he warns through his thriller of a synchronized alliance of mass evil that makes Al-Qaeda look like a picnic.

“Take corrupt bankers, who have already wrecked our economy, and compromised national security. Stir in Nazi movements, now gaining increased traction in places like Greece. Pour in accelerating nuclear proliferation due to a corrupt physicist and rogue states. (Sound like Iran and North Korea today?) Add more than a pinch of Al-Qaeda and a Mexican drug cartel who Dash further predicts may join together with the whole evil lot,” Dash says. “Voila, ZUrabia.”

This cautionary tale is not only a thriller, but a wake-up call to Homeland Security and everyone in the West who thinks all is getting better and that we have already seen the worst,” he says. “It’s a wake-up for those who think nothing could be much bigger in total destructive effect than Al-Qaeda.

Fortunately, as in real life, there are protectors and potential saviors. Adrian Sands, a Harvard associate and ex-mercenary, teams up with a female Masonic order in the book. Though Dash does not think any female Freemasons will solve our world’s problems, the fact that he includes them in a partially satirical twist to his plot echoes his belief that more women in power would be a good start for world harmony. (Curiously, female Freemasonry seems to be excluded from many thrillers with Freemason content.)

But can anyone save us from what may be a real-world ZUrabia? No, he says, especially if western bankers continue to launder terrorist and criminal money.

During his research in Harvard in 1986, Dash correctly predicted gravely weakening western institutions, and that is why he made ZUrabia a cautionary tale.

“Fortunately, for the moment, ZUrabia primarily makes for an entertaining page-turner, duplicated by a few thriller bestsellers in terms of research and intellectual quality,” Dash says.

Peter Dash has been a teacher, professor and corporate trainer for the past 17 years in Saudi Arabia, the former Soviet Union and China. He has an applied science degree in forestry and a master’s in applied teaching. He was a researcher in world order and youth groups at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs, started by Henry Kissinger. He follows the investment field intensely, focusing on commodity funds and trends. Fifteen percent of his book’s royalties will go to needy students consistent with the many years Dash has worked in assisting voluntary youth organizations. Dash invests in Gold ETFs and commodity trading companies.

Decoding the meaning of ZUrabia

By David Adelman
Sometimes the expression “never judge a book by its cover” doesn’t quite cut it. In this case, a tropical palm tree looming over a frightening swastika encrypted with the number 11 are all featured on the cover of Peter Dash’s first novel, ZUrabia.

A book that will capture the imagination, ZUrabia follows the analytical Harvard associate professor Adrian Sands, a moral man who is a strong advocate for human rights, gender equality and democratic values, along with a shadowy past as a highly dangerous spy for Z5.

With a personality that combines Indiana Jones’s wit and exceptional knowledge of history and James Bond’s charming attraction to danger, Sands is a protagonist few readers can dislike.

The novel begins on the streets of Zurich amidst a crowd of violent protesters that describe Wall Street and Swiss bankers as “butchers.”  Sands ends up following the threads of a plot by a mad scientist named Dr. Boom, whose nuclear schemes are funded by terrorist organizations and a rogue coalition of European bankers. Facing dangers and thrills along the lines of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Professor Sands teams up with the beautiful Austrian countess Isolde in a race against the doomsday clock of ZUrabia.

A world traveler and university lecturer himself, Dash began writing this page-turner four years ago after working in Saudi Arabia teaching English to corporate oil company employees.

“In Canada, we are a people that promote open society, multiculturalism and the Charter of Human Rights,” said Dash. “After visiting the region, I felt I should say something from a ground-up experience.”

Combining his raw imagination, deep interest in the medieval period and first-hand knowledge from his travels throughout the world, Dash has synthesized a novel relevant to the times through his own pragmatic social conscience to create a distinct thriller meant to educate and entertain.

“In our everyday lives there are countless stories of greed overcoming humanity,” he said. “It’s important to have a consumer society that creates well, but if we don’t balance out these forces, problems like environmental and monetary instability occur. I always felt fiction was a good way to help balance out these forces.”

Incorporating various languages and historic locations, dark humor and a deep understanding of culture, Dash went above and beyond to press his imagination. “This novel really allowed me to put my linguistics master’s degree to good use,” he said. “I’m already beginning my research for the sequel.”

Dash assures us that the genesis of the blended words ZUrabia will be explained in his novel.


Published by iUniverseBooks

Zurabia—a word that makes the CIA and MI5 shudder, conjuring images of blood lust in extremists. It is the secret code name for a deadly coalition of rogue Wall Street and Swiss bankers, as well as Arab sovereign fund managers. Together with the Islamic terrorist group called Al Quomini and European neo-Nazis, they seek to enslave the free world.

One soldier, in the fight for freedom, is an unlikely one—at least on the surface. Professor Adrian Sands, a Harvard University associate, has a shadowy past that few know. The scholar is also a trained mercenary and assassin, secretly in the employ of the independent, spy agency called Z5.

In an attempt to unravel the plans of ZUrabia, he partners with an ancient female Masonic order led by Isolde, an Austrian countess, and other allies from the Middle East. Shared peril soon draws Adrian and Isolde together in ways neither deems safe or prudent. Nothing less than the fate of Western civilization is in the hands of Sands and his Masonic companions, and the clock is ticking down to the physical and financial doomsday of ZUrabia’s making.

The Masonic order is charged with stopping the corrupt bankers and terrorists from destroying Western democracies, and much of the global economy along with it. Can Sands and the order unravel the conspiracy in time?

“Not too far from what could happen…There are echoes of Occupy Wall Street in the book.” 

Sonali Karnick, CBC host, All-in-the-Week-End (Montreal)  in interview of Peter Dash about ZUrabia.

“Suspense begins on the first page and it never let’s go! (Meaning it is a struggle to put this work down.)” 

Dr. Thelma Barer-Stein, Phd University of Toronto, 20 years publishing and major editor, Toronto.

“Dash has synthesized a novel relevant to the times through his own pragmatic social conscience to create a distinct thriller meant to educate and entertain.” 

WestmountExaminer: Review by David Edelman

“Zurabia is a fine pick for those seeking a thriller of espionage and war.”

Midwest Book Review (America’s premier book reviewer where all books reviewed meet Amazon.com‘s five star rating or higher.)

ZUrabia received “Editor Choice” prestige designation from the publisher, iUniverse

“Essentially it is one blockbuster thriller. However, once I got into it, I realized it was much more than that. …It is well researched..” 

Aamer Mitta, architect, McGill grad and science graduate of the University of Michigan. Class of 74, Lower Canada College.

“When my dear friend Peter Dash asked me to read and review his first novel  ‘Zurabia’ I was a bit anxious. ‘What if I don’t like it?’ I need not have worried. I was hooked after the first chapter…. The events in Dash’s narrative are not only current, but also prophetic.” 

Tim Fowler, World press.com and American professor, Virginia, USA.